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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: W. Scott Creach

Creach family seeks $15mil from county

The family of slain Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach has filed a $14.7 million wrongful death claim against Spokane County, which is the first step in filing a civil lawsuit.

“A jury may come in and feel highly aggravated at what happened,” said the pastor’s son, Alan Creach. “They may award a very large sum.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who is on vacation, said Tuesday that he knows the claim has been filed. “Since it’s gone into the lawsuit phase, I don’t have any comments, per our legal advice.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Deputy cleared in pastor’s fatal shooting

The Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor last year will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter.

Deputy Brian Hirzel followed all departmental policies and procedures during the Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach (pictured), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Wednesday in announcing the results of his internal investigation. He met with members of the Creach family earlier in the day to advise them of the findings.

“This was a very tragic situation. I’m saddened for the community. I’m saddened for the Creach family. I’m saddened for law enforcement,” Knezovich said. “But it came down to a matter of choices. For Deputy Hirzel, when (Creach) reached for that weapon, he was faced with a deadly threat.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Sheriff drops the wait for police shooting interviews

Sheriff drops the wait in shooting probes

Investigators probing officer-involved shootings will no longer be required to wait at least 72 hours before interviewing Spokane County Sheriff’s Office employees.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (pictured) announced the change Thursday, ending a departmental practice common at many law enforcement agencies but seen as contradictory and confusing outside of police circles.

The move comes amid continuing public outcry over the nine-day lapse between the Aug. 25 shooting of Spokane Valley pastor and businessman Wayne Scott Creach by Deputy Brian Hirzel, who was allowed to take a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas before being interviewed by detectives investigating the fatal encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

911 recordings released in Creach shooting

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Dispatch traffic from night of Creach shooting

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 and police dispatch tapes documenting Deputy Brian Hirzel’s transmissions surrounding his fatal shooting of Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach.

The transcript is largely as Spokane police officials described. Hirzel called “code 6,” which means he needs help. 

A few seconds later he says: “I’ve got shots fired, one down, shots fired.” A few seconds after that, Hirzel said: “respond medics.”

He made that call a second time from 14208 E. 4th Ave. before a dispatcher acknowledged the call and informed Hirzel that medics were en route.

Hirzel was in full uniform but in an unmarked car the night of Aug. 25 when Creach, who owned the property Hirzel was parked on, approached with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

Hirzel said he told Creach repeatedly to drop the gun but that he refused and tucked it into the back waistband of his pants instead, then refused Hirzel’s orders to lay on the ground.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker now has the case and has said he hopes to quickly decide on any potential charges against Hirzel.

Hirzel’s order to drop gun was lawful

Although the Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, state laws passed since then dictate how citizens can legally carry and use weapons.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and other legal experts say the law is crystal clear on this point: A person must follow a lawful order from police.

“When an officer asks you to drop a weapon, you drop it,” Tucker said this week. “Even in the Old West, if a deputy sheriff comes up on an outlaw and says ‘Drop the gun,’ you drop the gun or a gunbattle starts.”

But Alan Creach, son of Wayne Scott Creach, who was killed Aug. 25, said it’s also clear that his father was no “outlaw,” and was well within his rights to carry a gun to protect his property as he had done for years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Sept. 17: Police report details pastor’s shooting

Reports detail Pastor Creach’s gun use

Pastor Wayne Scott Creach not only routinely carried his .45 caliber pistol on his property, he was known by police to hold theft suspects at gunpoint until officers could arrive and once chased a fleeing suspect several blocks before apprehending him by threatening to “blow his head off.” 

That report was among the 21 contacts Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies had with Creach or his business, the Plant Farm, over the last five years, according to records obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

On April 14, 2008, for example, Creach saw someone just after midnight riding away on a bicycle from his nursery complex at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley with what looked like a plant hanging out of the suspect’s backpack.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Candidate wants WSP to probe shooting

The Democratic challenger for Spokane County prosecutor on Monday called for the Washington State Patrol to take over the investigation into the fatal shooting of a Spokane Valley pastor.

Spokane lawyer Frank Malone said he had not contacted the WSP, but noted they were already involved in the investigation of the Aug. 25 shooting by Deputy Brian Hirzel as part of a protocol that is designed to avoid having a department investigate itself. “

This investigation is already compromised,” Malone said. “The deputy being allowed to go on vacation was ill-advised and created an unnecessary appearance of coziness with the legal system. The deputy is as interested in a credible investigation as anybody else. He doesn’t want this cloud hanging over him, either.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Report: Sex toys sold from Hirzel’s home

Deputy Brian Hirzel, already under investigation for fatally shooting a Spokane Valley pastor, now is the subject of a new probe.

Hirzel failed to disclose, as required under sheriff’s department rules, that he and his wife are co-owners of a business that sells sex toys online, and could face disciplinary measures if investigators determine he’s taken an active role in the company’s operations, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Monday.

“He told us his wife runs it. If his wife runs it, I can’t control what a spouse does,” Knezovich said, adding that an anonymous tipster advised the Sheriff’s Office on Friday of Hirzel’s connection to the sex toys company. “If he was part of it, there will be some kind of disciplinary action. The discipline will be determined by the facts of the matter.”

RRead the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Sheriff ruing flap over deputy’s vacation

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is frustrated and caught off-guard by the public reaction to the decision to allow Deputy Brian Hirzel to leave for vacation just hours after he shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor late last month. 

Knezovich acknowledges that everything with his department ultimately is his responsibility. But he believes he’s been unfairly portrayed in the decision to allow Hirzel to leave town before explaining the encounter that resulted in the death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach.

Hirzel “was already on vacation when I found out he was on vacation,” Knezovich said. “How do I un-ring that bell? I could have said bring him back in. But I would have just countermanded everything that the (investigative) team had done. That was not my role in the investigation. My role was to stay out of it and not influence it.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Deputy says pastor was reaching for a gun

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel said he ordered Pastor Wayne Scott Creach to drop his gun multiple times, struck the 74-year-old man in the leg with a police baton and fired only after the property owner began to draw the gun out of his waistband, an investigator said Tuesday in the first detailed account of the Aug. 25 incident that resulted in Creach’s death.

At no time did Creach aim his weapon at Hirzel, according to Spokane Police Lt. Dave McGovern, who supervises the detectives who investigate major crimes.The autopsy following the shooting showed no corresponding mark on Creach’s leg from a baton strike, McGovern said.

“But then again, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t struck,” the police lieutenant said. “It’s just that there were no marks of it.” Further forensic testing will be done to determine if there are marks on Creach’s trousers or fibers on the baton. Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Past coverage: Sept. 6: Deputy says he hit pastor with baton

Deputy says he saw armed man approach

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel told investigators Friday that he saw Pastor Wayne Scott Creach approaching his unmarked patrol car from a distance of about 30 feet with a gun in his hand before they had a verbal confrontation. 

Hirzel said in a videotaped interview that he fired one shot that killed Creach on Aug. 25, according to a news release sent Friday by Spokane Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

“According to Officer Hirzel’s statement and evidence collected at the scene, ultimately there was a close encounter between the officer and Mr. Creach near the officer’s car,” the release said. “Officer Hirzel stated there was a verbal exchange between himself and Mr. Creach prior to the single gunshot being fired. Officer Hirzel’s statement and the evidence confirms only one shot was fired.” 

The news release offered no explanation of what was said or by whom, or why Hirzel felt the need to pull the trigger, killing the 74-year-old pastor in the parking lot of his nursery business at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here

Read the full news release by clicking the last link at the end of this post.

Past coverage:

Sept. 3: Pastor buried in Oklahoma

Sept. 1: Deputy’s vacation delays probe into fatal shooting

Sept. 1: Son offers insight into pastor’s fatal encounte

Aug. 31: Officer involved in fatal shooting identified

Aug. 31: Mourners note ‘good example’ set by slain clergyman

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Sheriff: Ending vacation could taint probe

The interview that should finally explain why a deputy shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor will come Friday morning – after the deputy returns from a week-long vacation approved by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Deputy Brian Hirzel left town the day after an Aug. 25 encounter with Pastor Wayne Scott Creach at his sprawling nursery business, the Plant Farm at 14208 E. 4th Ave.

Officials have only said that Hirzel and Creach had some sort of “confrontation” that ended when Hirzel shot Creach moments after the shirtless 74-year-old grabbed his pistol and went outside to investigate what he may have thought was a prowler.

Knezovich said at a hastily called news conference Wednesday that he approved Hirzel’s vacation partly because the county would have been on the hook to pay for the plane tickets and travel costs for Hirzel and his wife.

But the sheriff said his greatest concern was that he didn’t want to “taint” the investigation by making it appear he was forcing Hirzel to submit to the interview.

“This case is more important” than a vacation, Knezovich said. “We have to ensure the integrity of this investigation and I’m not about to do anything that looks coercive that would jeopardize this investigation.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

On Tuesday, Alan Creach said his mother heard a shout and what sounded like three shots. But a deputy kept Imogene Creach from approaching her husband and she didn’t see anyone providing medical aid, her son said.

Read more in this story: Son offers insight into pastor’s fatal encounter

Past coverage:

Aug. 31: Officer involved in fatal shooting identified

Aug. 31: Mourners note ‘good example’ set by slain clergyman

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

Valley officer who shot pastor identified

The deputy who fatally shot a Spokane Valley pastor and business owner last week was identified Monday as Brian Hirzel, a two-year veteran of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office who also has held law enforcement positions in Kootenai County and in Southern California. 

Hirzel, 41, (right) has agreed to meet Thursday with detectives investigating the shooting death of 74-year-old Pastor Wayne “Scott” Creach (left), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich confirmed.

The investigation is being conducted by the Spokane Police Department. 

Although authorities still have few details about the encounter, Knezovich described Hirzel as cooperative and noted that he has agreed to the interview with detectives even though he has the same constitutional right to remain silent as anyone else.  

“This isn’t a friendly interview he is heading for. This is a criminal investigation,” Knezovich said. “After that, there will be an administrative review,” which will determine whether any disciplinary measures are warranted.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

The release of Hirzel’s name came the same day as Creach’s funeral, which took place at the Greenacres Baptist Church that he founded. (Pictured above.) Friends, family and parishioners filled the sanctuary, youth building and a large event tent erected on the church lawn. Some attendees had to stand outside and watch video feeds of the service.

“Pastor Scott loved his wife and his family. He will be greatly missed,” colleague Eric Walsh said during the service. “The Creach family finds great comfort as they see God’s plan unfolding through this tragedy.”

Past coverage:

Aug. 28: Sheriff offers condolences, withholds details

Aug. 27: Valley officer kills pastor at nursery

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